Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Scholarship, summer program instills in UTSA grad a desire to teach younger students

Scholarship, summer program instills in UTSA grad a desire to teach younger students


MAY 4, 2022 — For some, the path to college is clear and without interruption. For others, like Fernando Cordova, who will be the first in his family to receive a college degree, the journey to college takes some turns. In the end, though, it’s all a journey toward new opportunities and self-discovery.

Graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a minor in Latin American studies, the road to graduation for Cordova was not without its turns. A San Antonio native, Cordova originally planned to attend Abilene Christian University after graduating from Stevens High School in 2017. He changed his mind, however, after realizing he wanted to remain closer to home. He started first at Northwest Vista College (NVC) then made plans to become a Roadrunner.

Cordova’s two-year term at NVC opened the door for two significant opportunities that ultimately led him to UTSA. He became a recipient of the Terry Foundation Scholarship. He also had the opportunity to participate in the UTSA Transfer Academy for Future Teachers (TAFT).

“With TAFT, I was able to get acquainted with the teaching program at UTSA. And of course, I really fell in love with the educational program.”

TAFT is a joint program offered in the summer by the UTSA College of Education and Human Development and the Alamo Colleges District, which includes NVC. The initiative was designed to enhance the success of future teachers by creating a seamless educational experience between the institutions.

“With TAFT, I was able to get acquainted with the teaching program at UTSA. And of course, I really fell in love with the educational program,” Cordova said. “I got to meet and network with people. As a transfer student, that was very important to me.”

The TAFT program gave Cordova a glimpse of what he would eventually learn in the classroom.

“I learned so much. I was able to create my teaching philosophy, set some really good goals for myself, learn about how to get certified, including what steps I need to take to become certified, and find some resources to help me get certified,” he said. “We learned something new every day to help all of us get ready to transfer to UTSA.”

TAFT and the Terry Scholars Program are representative of the policies, practices and support systems that UTSA is purposefully implementing to accelerate Latino student success. While TAFT allowed Cordova to familiarize himself with UTSA’s education curricula, the Terry Scholars Program, which offers funding for tuition, fees, books, housing and a meal plan, is an example of how the institution is making a college education accessible for students from all backgrounds.

UTSA is a Tier One research institution where 57% of the undergraduate student population is Hispanic, 38% are transfer students and 45% are first-generation college students.

Cordova attributes his desire to become a teacher to one of the three jobs he held while attending Northwest Vista. He was an instructor for Learning Tree, an after-school care program in the Northside Independent School District.

“I worked there for three years, and I immediately knew that it was for me,” he said. “I love working with kids. I just really fell in love with working with the kids and helping them grow.”

Since that time, Cordova has gained first-hand teaching experience as a student in COEHD’s teaching program. It’s not lost on him that classrooms lack male educators.

“That's why I really wanted to go into teaching—to kind of help this change,” he said. “There should be more male teachers present in the educational field.”

His decision to pursue the minor in Latin American studies came from his desire to learn more about his Ecuadorian culture.

“I really wanted to know about my culture,” he said. “I'm having fun in these classes. It's something that I'm thankful that I was able to do. The scholarship has really helped me.”

Service has also been a hallmark of Cordova’s UTSA journey. As a result of his Terry Foundation Scholarship, he was able to discover his passions and interests. Coming full circle, he’s currently serving as the executive director of the student organization Terry Scholars at UTSA. Guided by his leadership, the organization was able to hit key milestones and even break some records.

“That's my whole identity, giving back to the community,” he said. “That's why I love education.”

Get more details about the UTSA Transfer Academy for Future Teachers (TAFT).
Learn more about the Terry Scholars Program.
Explore the degree programs and student success tools available in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.

After graduation, the UTSA senior hopes to continue serving his community by providing San Antonio elementary school students with not only a top-quality education but with a commitment to their personal growth and development.

“I want to make sure that my classroom feels safe, that we can have these conversations about identities and diversity,” he said. “I see myself being a principal or superintendent. I really want to create change in the educational field.”

Libby Castillo

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.



University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.